The real electoral college bias

Love this analysis from Nate Cohn looking at the various ways the electoral college is or is not biased and how that helped Trump.  His conclusion: not regionalism, not small-state bias, but a battleground state bias:

O.K., so it’s not California and it’s not small-state bias. What is it?

It’s the Electoral College’s most straightforward bias: The battleground states count the most.

Mrs. Clinton did well in noncompetitive states and “wasted” popular votes that didn’t earn her any more electoral votes, while Mr. Trump did just well enough in competitive states to pick up their electoral votes…

Mr. Trump did very well in the battleground states. Depending on how the battlegrounds are defined, the vote there either broke for Mr. Trump or was virtually tied — a huge improvement over Mitt Romney’s showing in 2012.

Mr. Trump won a lopsided electoral vote tally from those states by narrowly winning four of the five states decided by around one point or less: Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania (Mrs. Clinton edged him out in New Hampshire). Outside of those five states, the electoral vote was basically tied, with Mr. Trump edging out Mrs. Clinton, 231 to 228 (and leading by the margin of small-state bias)…

The regional anomaly was the Midwest, and it just so happens that in a winner-take-all system Mr. Trump’s strength in the Midwestern battleground states yielded a lot of Electoral College votes.

There’s a real demographic reason for it: Most of the traditional battleground states are much whiter, less educated and particularly less Hispanic than the rest of the country.

But the demographics alone don’t quite do justice to Mr. Trump’s victory in the Electoral College. In the end, he won the battleground states by just a one-point margin — but claimed three-fourths of their Electoral College votes.

He won four of the five closest states, winning 75 of 79 votes at stake.

There has never been a close election in the United States in which one candidate has claimed such a resounding electoral vote margin out of the closest states.

For lack of a better word: Mr. Trump had some very good luck.  [emphasis mine]

Damn.  On such things do the fate of the country rest.  Unlucky us.

The End of HB2(?)

Well, Charlotte repealed it’s ordinance that set the whole thing off and the legislature is supposedly going to repeal on Wednesday.  You’ll understand if I say I’ll believe it when I see it, though I do think this will finally happen.

So, with Charlotte repealing it’s ordinance, the legislature ostensibly no longer needs HB2 to protect women and children in bathrooms.  At this point, there was no way the narrow-minded egomaniacs in Raleigh were ever going to back down, so good for Charlotte’s Democratic local government for doing the right thing so that the state can end it’s pariah status.  Sure, this may be backing down on transgender rights, to a degree, but the Charlotte ordinance was unenforceable under HB2.  Here’s my analogy.  The bully has his knee on your back, there’s no adults around, and he demands “say I’m the greatest.”  Well, damnit, you just say “you’re the greatest” and get on with your life.  Nobody really thinks you think the bully is great.  And nobody thinks Charlotte doesn’t want to protect LGBT people.

The simple fact is the legislature pretty much has all the power here.  The only countervailing power was that of sports and entertainment boycotts and companies not moving jobs here.  And that didn’t work.  The bully doesn’t care that everybody hates him and thinks he’s a jerk.  He just wants you to say, “you’re the greatest.”  So you do it.  That’s what Charlotte did here.

It’s important to note that while the focus was on bathrooms, a far more insidious effect of the law was basically to implicitly legalize discrimination against gay people.  That goes away now.

Gotta love the Republican comments on this, though:

“Today Roy Cooper and Jennifer Roberts proved what we said was the case all along: their efforts to force men into women’s bathrooms and shower facilities was a political stunt to drive out-of-state money into the governor’s race,” the Republican leaders said. “For months, we’ve said if Charlotte would repeal its bathroom ordinance that created the problem, we would take up the repeal of HB2.”

Seriously?  Pathetic till the end.  But again, there was no way these guys were going to do anything about this law as long as the Charlotte ordinance was on the books.  Heck, in their tiny little minds, they may actually believe that this is about “forcing men into women’s bathrooms and showers.”

So, my take…  Damn good to have this behind us.  The long-term damage to North Carolina’s reputation is going to persist and take quite a while to undo.  At least over that period, I’ll be enjoying opportunities for the best that sports and entertainment has to offer and many hard-working North Carolinians will no longer have to take a direct economic hit.   Of course, the bullies in the legislature may just be looking for another opportunity to get their knee in our collective back.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Chait on the nightmare that is Trump’s National Security team:

But it is the specific, mutually reinforcing characteristics of Flynn and his staff that invite the most alarm. He is a conspiracy theorist averse to any challenge to his suspicions, surrounding himself with a staff of fellow conspiracy theorists seemingly designed to shut out any challenge to his biases, providing advice to a novice president who is himself a conspiracy theorist. It’s under-informed, overconfident crackpots all the way down. As a comedic script, it would defy plausibility. Except there’s a terrifying chance that a lot of innocent people will die as a result.

2) I love this idea– an affirmative liberal agenda to protect voting rights in the states.  Let’s go liberals.

3) Like me, I’m sure you are totally shocked at the very solid evidence for racial bias against Black convicts in Florida.  But Fox News says the real racism problem now is racism against white people.  What to believe?

4) Laser Christmas lights are totally catching on.  Me and my kids totally want these because I’m way too lazy to put up real lights.  My wife doesn’t think we should advertise our laziness to the neighborhood.  I actually think they look pretty cool, too.

5) I’ve been meaning to do a post on Comey, but, ahhhh, quick hits it is.  Excellent post from Brian Beutler on how Democrats need to not cede the security state to Republicans.  And excellent Vanity Fair profile of Comey and recent FBI directors.  And Drum argues that, regardless of Comey’s intent, everything he did sure came out very partisan:

Any one of these things could be just an accident. Put them all together, and you need to be pretty obtuse not to see the partisan pattern. In every single case, Comey and the FBI did what was best for Republicans and worst for Democrats. In. Every. Single. Case.

If you want to believe this is just a coincidence, go ahead. But nobody with a room temperature IQ credits that. The FBI has spent the entire past year doing everything it could to favor one party over the other in a presidential campaign. Democrats ought to be in a seething fury about this. Instead, they’re arguing about a few thousand white rural voters in Wisconsin and whether Hillary Clinton should have visited Michigan a few more times in October.

6) Vox piece on the reality of the infamous hot McDonald’s coffee lawsuit.  Actually saw a great documentary on this a few years ago.

7) Josh Marshall on the Russia hacks and what we knew when:

The administration did a huge amount over the course of the fall to alert the public, alert the world was happening. They finally went so far as to issue a public consensus judgment of the entire US intelligence community about Russian tampering in the election.

This was loud. Everybody heard about it. It was widely reported. It certainly didn’t get the same volume or intensity of attention as Hillary Clinton’s emails. But the President can’t control press coverage. The key issue was that political partisanship by and large kept Republicans from caring. The dynamics of the presidential contest were more important than foreign meddling or sabotage.

 This may sound like a harsh judgment but it is demonstrably true. Not only did President-Elect Trump know about the charges. (Indeed, it is very likely his intelligence briefings included more detailed information than we in the public have even today.) He frequently discussed them and encouraged the tampering
Perhaps you have doubts about whether Russia was really behind the hacks. But the US government made abundantly clear who it believed was behind them. The notifications went far beyond leaks or interviews. They did a public and formal pronouncement! That almost never happens. The simple matter is this: Everybody knew this. But there was no making Trump, his supporters or most critically establishment Republicans or elected officials care.  [italics Marshall; bold is me]

8) This headline in Salon piece summarizing some new research pretty much gets it, ” Big Republican donors are even more extreme than their party — and they drive its agenda.”

Why does this matter? There is increasing evidence that politicians are more responsive to donors than to voters or party members in general. The push for austerity does not come from average Americans, but from powerful donors. Economic and political inequality are self-reinforcing trends: The rich use their increasing wealth to influence the political system, and they overwhelmingly prefer policies that limit the influence of government in society. Though the voice of the donor class is disparate, it speaks with an accent — and prefers policies that will further increase economic inequality.

9) Tom Wheeler on why it was easier being a lobbyist than heading the FCC:

Looking back, Wheeler says it was easier being a lobbyist.

“To make decisions that are in the common good is tough,” Wheeler said at a press conference today. “Remember: I have been on the other side. Making demands that benefit a specific constituency is easy, as is attacking the decision-makers when you don’t like that decision.”

10) How the rise in Cesarean sections may actually be affecting human evolution– bigger heads.

11) I think Chait is right that Schumer is operating off the wrong mental model on how to deal with Trump.

12) Love the technology behind these proposed check-out free Amazon stores.

13) Criminal justice in Alabama— surprise again– racist and vindictive.

14) Paul Waldman on Congressional Republicans looking the other way on so much bad stuff.  Tax cuts!!

But in the specific areas above, we’re seeing something new and different. We’re looking at the possibility of an unprecedented undermining of the integrity of our democracy; of mind-blowingly extensive corruption; and of a massive erosion of the very possibility of agreement on basic facts about our political outcomes. This goes well beyond anything we’ve seen in recent history, not only in the specifics, but even more so in the aggregate. And, presuming this will continue, the behavior of congressional Republicans in response to it should be seen as an integral part of that story.

15) Dana Goldstein assesses Obama’s legacy on education.

16) Speaking of education, new evidence that, yes, school spending does matter.  Of course, it matters where you spend it:

For many years, research on the relationship between spending and student learning has been surprisingly inconclusive. Many other factors, including student poverty, parental education and the way schools are organized, contribute to educational results.

Teasing out the specific effect of money spent is methodologically difficult. Opponents of increased school funding have seized on that ambiguity to argue that, for schools, money doesn’t matter — and, therefore, more money isn’t needed.

But new, first-of-its-kind research suggests that conclusion is mistaken. Money really does matter in education, which could provide fresh momentum for more lawsuits and judgments like the Connecticut decision…

They found a consistent pattern: In the long run, over comparable time frames, states that send additional money to their lowest-income school districts see more academic improvement in those districts than states that don’t. The size of the effect was significant. The changes bought at least twice as much achievement per dollar as a well-known experiment that decreased class sizes in the early grades. [emphasis mine]

Chart of the day

Drum with a nice chart on the relative liberalness of Bernie compared to other Democratic nominees:

Yes, sure, Hillary Clinton was a sub-optimal candidate, but it really defies research and logic to think Sanders could have done any better.  Sure, ideology of presidential might not matter as much as it used to, but being that far in the liberal direction sure ain’t helping.

Quick hits (part I)

1) “Drain the swamp” makes a good sound-bite, but if you are going to go into a swamp, you want a guide who knows their way around it.  Lee Drutman:

But the reality of democracy in the world’s largest economy and third most-populous country is that national policymaking is complicated. It requires considerable knowledge and experience to understand the rules and resolve trade-offs. If you get rid of experienced policymakers and bureaucrats who understand these rules and trade-offs, it’s not as if the problems of modern governance go away. Decision-makers simply rely more on private lobbyists, who are only too happy to fill the void by supplying decision-makers with expertise and know-how.

This is a harder story to tell, because it lacks a three-syllable chant. But democracy is a system for making hard trade-offs among competing interests. And to make those trade-offs fairly and intelligently requires knowledge and experience. The surest way to empower special interests is to make government dumber. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Trump has proposed to do.

2) David Leonhardt on the disappearing American dream.

3) Great tweetstorm from Jay Rosen on the media under Trump.  Ominously titled, “Winter is Coming.”

4) Really interesting new research on the evolution of whales.  It seems that in addition to the question of “why did whales get so big?” is “why did smaller whales go extinct?”

5) Dahlia Lithwick and David Cohen argue it’s time for Democrats to fight like Republicans.  There’s something to be said for fighting harder, but it’s not too much of a democracy when both sides decide to ignore the norms of democracy.  That’s a quandary.

6) NC is one of only two states in the country that automatically charges 16 and 17-year olds as adults.  My representative and friend, Duane Hall, is fighting to change this.  He’s got the support of police and the Republican NC Chief Justice.  Hopefully, the Republicans in the legislature will go along in a rare burst of common sense.

7) Westworld was a really imperfect show, but I mostly enjoyed it.  Very much enjoyed this discussion with the creators about how video games influenced the intellectual design of the show.

8) NPR’s Kat Chow on all the meanings of “politically incorrect.”

9) Now that Star Wars is expanding it’s stories, like Rogue One, some additional story ideas.

10) Really interesting NYT magazine piece on the various efforts, via genetic engineering and other means, to make peanuts less allergenic:

But an unresolved question is how many of the 17 known allergenic proteins scientists can actually edit out of the peanut. Ara h 1 helps the seed store energy for growth, for example, while Ara h 13 helps fight off fungi. Researchers may discover that removing every allergy-causing protein may have the unintended consequence of destroying the viability of the plant itself.

11) Zack Beauchamp with how we would cover Russia’s election hack if it happened in another country.

12) In case you missed SNL’s Walter White to head DEA.

13a) Shocking, I know, but some on-line “bargains” really aren’t such bargains.

13b) And a related piece on how list prices lost their meaning.

If some Internet retailers have an expansive definition of list price, the Federal Trade Commission does not.

“To the extent that list or suggested retail prices do not in fact correspond to prices at which a substantial number of sales of the article in question are made, the advertisement of a reduction may mislead the consumer,” the Code of Federal Regulations states. The F.T.C. declined to comment.

“If you’re selling $15 pens for $7.50, but just about everybody else is also selling the pens for $7.50, then saying the list price is $15 is a lie,” said David C. Vladeck, the former director of the F.T.C.’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “And if you’re doing this frequently, it’s a serious problem.”

Hey, that’s government regulation.  Bad!  Businesses should obviously be allowed to lie all they want.  That’s capitalism, baby!

14) We should probably think of obesity like cancer– a constellation of related diseases:

Dr. Frank Sacks, a professor of nutrition at Harvard, likes to challenge his audience when he gives lectures on obesity.

“If you want to make a great discovery,” he tells them, figure out this: Why do some people lose 50 pounds on a diet while others on the same diet gain a few pounds?

Then he shows them data from a study he did that found exactly that effect.

Dr. Sacks’s challenge is a question at the center of obesity research today. Two people can have the same amount of excess weight, they can be the same age, the same socioeconomic class, the same race, the same gender. And yet a treatment that works for one will do nothing for the other.

The problem, researchers say, is that obesity and its precursor — being overweight — are not one disease but instead, like cancer, they are many. “You can look at two people with the same amount of excess body weight and they put on the weight for very different reasons,” said Dr. Arya Sharma, medical director of the obesity program at the University of Alberta…

If obesity is many diseases, said Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of the obesity, metabolism and nutrition institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, there can be many paths to the same outcome. It makes as much sense to insist there is one way to prevent all types of obesity — get rid of sugary sodas, clear the stores of junk foods, shun carbohydrates, eat breakfast, get more sleep — as it does to say you can avoid lung cancer by staying out of the sun, a strategy specific to skin cancer.

One focus of research is to figure out how many types of obesity there are — Dr. Kaplan counts 59 so far — and how many genes can contribute.

15) If Dean Baker and Jared Bernstein say we should take trade deficits seriously, we probably should.

16) Paul Blest on how the NC legislative Democrats need to fight back.  I think he’s right:

So for Democrats, now is the time to stop being complicit in their own humiliation. Their votes don’t matter, so the best way to make their voices heard is to show solidarity with people who care deeply about changing this state’s reputation as a “testing ground for alt-right and ultra-conservative ideas” and protest alongside the

m.Legislators using protest as a tool would be nothing new this year. In March, North Carolina Senate Democrats walked out on the HB 2 vote, and in June, Democrats in the U.S. House staged a sit-in to force a vote on a (bad) gun control bill. For minority caucuses that are being bowled over by the majority, it’s a great strategy in that it garners media attention, which in turn helps North Carolinians who might not be totally aware of what’s going on. Maybe a few of them could risk arrest; after all, the sight of a few Democratic lawmakers getting hauled down to the police station would almost assuredly wake people up.

Would Moore be pissed? Sure, but who cares? The country is already watching, so let Moore ram his bills through a half-empty chamber, let Representative Paul Stam go on tangents about the seventeenth century to half-asleep Republicans, and—most important—let the entire country see how authoritarian North Carolina has become.

18) Drew Magary is back with his annual profane and hilarious hater’s guide to Williams Sonoma.

19) Excellent piece from Sarah Kliff who interviews a bunch of Trump voters in Kentucky who are oh-so-sure Trump would never actually take away their ACA health insurance.  Maybe they should have taken him seriously and literally.

20) I think I might have mentioned that I loved the movie “The Arrival.”  So good.  Read the short story upon which it is based, “Stories of your Life” with my son, David, this week.  As we all know, the book is usually better than the movie, but David and I both strongly agreed that in this case, the movie was better.  The short story was quite good, but that was really a hell of a screenplay by Eric Heisserer.


2016 Turnout revisited

Very nice chart from Drum putting final 2016 turnout in recent historical perspective:

So, despite early appearances, low turnout was really not the story of this election.  Though, it may be fair to say, to some degree, lack of Democratic turnout was the story.  How much of this is attributable to dissatisfaction with Clinton?  My guess is a lot?  How much of that dissatisfaction is due to email-obsessed media coverage and false equivalencies with Trump?  Enough to lose an election narrowly in three states, I suspect.

The problem is real news, not fake news

Love this post from Yglesias.  Yes, fake news is a problem, but I almost feel like “real” news has been using it as a scapegoat to largely ignore their own, far more important, failings in the recent election:

Clinton’s campaign did have a real news problem, but the problem was with the real news coverage — coverage that dwelled overwhelmingly on a bullshit email server scandal, devoted far fewer resources to investigating Trump’s shady foundation than Clinton’s lifesaving one, largely ignored Trump’s financial conflicts of interest, and almost entirely avoided discussion of the policy stakes in the campaign.

Trump ended the campaign as he began it — unpopular and viewed as unqualified by a majority of voters, with no amount of fake news stories to puff him up succeeding in moving the needle. But Clinton, who began the 2016 cycle with reasonably high favorable numbers, saw them crater under a torrent of email stories with 45 percent of voters telling exit pollsters they were bothered “a lot” by her decision to forgo a email address, of which 86 percent voted for Trump.

Whether journalists want to be proud or ashamed of the work done by mainstream press during the campaign is up to them, but it was perfectly normal stories in normal outlets that moved the needle in a major way — fake news was a total sideshow…

Clinton’s campaign did have a real news problem, but the problem was with the real news coverage — coverage that dwelled overwhelmingly on a bullshit email server scandal, devoted far fewer resources to investigating Trump’s shady foundation than Clinton’s lifesaving one, largely ignored Trump’s financial conflicts of interest, and almost entirely avoided discussion of the policy stakes in the campaign.

Trump ended the campaign as he began it — unpopular and viewed as unqualified by a majority of voters, with no amount of fake news stories to puff him up succeeding in moving the needle. But Clinton, who began the 2016 cycle with reasonably high favorable numbers, saw them crater under a torrent of email stories with 45 percent of voters telling exit pollsters they were bothered “a lot” by her decision to forgo a email address, of which 86 percent voted for Trump.

Whether journalists want to be proud or ashamed of the work done by mainstream press during the campaign is up to them, but it was perfectly normal stories in normal outlets that moved the needle in a major way — fake news was a total sideshow…

The sum total of this media coverage — real stories based on editorial decisions about how to weight and present real facts — was to give the public the impression that two similarly ethically flawed candidates were running against each other in an election with low policy stakes. The reporters and editors responsible for that coverage can reasonably (if a bit absurdly) consider themselves proud of the work that led the public to that conclusion, or they can consider themselves ashamed of it. But the idea that voters were moved by fake stories about the pope rather than all-too-real ones about email servers is a preposterous evasion. [emphasis mine]

Yes, 1000 times, yes.

The power of partisan motivated reasoning in one tweet

I mentioned Putin’s popularity among Republicans the other day, but several people have, appropriately, put in the context of Obama’s popularity.  Here’s Nyhan:

Of course, you are no more suprised than I.  But step back and think about that for a moment.  Republicans have massively more positive attitudes towards a foreign dictator who oppresses political dissent and invades neighboring sovereign nations (and plenty, plenty more bad stuff), than towards their own president.

What it’s going to take to stop the awfulness

It is truly horrifying what the Republicans in NC are up to.  This is far from the first time there’s been a state with a Republican legislature and a newly-elected Democratic governor.  Yet, never have I heard of an attempt at such a far-reaching, anti-democratic power grab.  Of course Democrats are speaking up loudly.  Including getting arrested.  And the national media is bringing a harsh spotlight.  But these are the same guys who dug in on HB2– they just don’t care.

Until prominent Republicans call them out to stop the shenanigans, it’s just not going to happen.  And, so far, there’s been a few decent souls in the state board of education, but that’s itas far as I’m aware.  Has the entire Republican party simply adopted the “anything goes in the pursuit of power” mantra?!  Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that Republicans have warmed so much to Putin.  Are there no Republicans of note in this entire state with any principles?  And, of course, any voters who are troubled by this and they blithely keep on supporting Republicans are part of the problem.  Then again, most Republican Voters are likely just taking motivated reasoning to absurd levels at the moment.  So frustrating.  It seems that Democracy is failing at the federal level and now in NC as well.  A well-functioning democracy depends on falling a whole bunch of unwritten rules, i.e., norms.  When one party unilaterally decides to ignore those norms, well, so much for well-functioning democracy.

And, while I’m at it, Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern with a nice summary of the awfulness:

They promptly put forth a series of dramatic alterations to the government’s structure, including proposals to:

  • Overhaul county election boards to prevent Democratic control. Current law states that each county election board must be made up of three members, two of which should come from the governor’s party. The new proposal would give each election board four members—two Democrats and two Republicans—to prevent Democrats from taking control of the boards.
  • Overhaul the State Board of Elections by merging it with the State Ethics Commission and increasing its size. Right now, the law states that the election board must have five members, with three from the governor’s party. The new law would give it eight members—four Democrats and four Republicans—to forestall a Democratic advantage when Cooper takes office.
  • Allow a Democrat to chair the State Board of Elections in odd-numbered years—when there are typically no elections—and allow a Republican to chair the board in even-numbered years—when state and federal elections are normally held.
  • Make Supreme Court elections partisan and introduce party primaries. Republicans believe they lost the 2016 Supreme Court election because the candidates lacked a partisan identification.
  • Completely change the appeals process in order to limit the state Supreme Court’s authority. When Republicans took power, they provided citizens with the right to appeal constitutional challenges from superior court directly to the state Supreme Court. The new measure would remove this right, requiring constitutional challenges to be heard by all 15 judges of the court of appeals—which is dominated by Republicans—before reaching the state Supreme Court.
  • Allow McCrory to pick the Industrial Commission chairman, who will serve for the next four years. Under current law, Cooper should have the opportunity to fill this position.
  • Reduce the number of state employees who serve at the pleasure of the governor. When McCrory took office, Republicans increased this number from 500 to 1,500. They now propose reducing it to 300.
  • Remove Cooper’s ability to appoint trustees to run campuses in the University of North Carolina system—and transfer that power to the state legislature.
  • Require Senate confirmation of Cooper’s Cabinet appointments. McCrory’s appointments did not require Senate approval.
  • Confirm McCrory’s closest ally, state budget director Andrew Heath, to a superior court judgeship.
  • Abolish car-emissions testing in many counties; eliminate some state environmental reports; and remove scientists from certain state boards tasked with protecting public health, replacing them with industry representatives.

These proposals are not merely designed to negate the will of the voters in this election. They are also intended to maintain Republican-sponsored voter suppression, thereby preventing Democrats from ever regaining control of the North Carolina government.

What’s happening in North Carolina is not politics as usual. It is an extraordinarily disturbing legislative coup, a flagrant effort to maintain one-party rule by rejecting democratic norms and revoking the will of the voters. It is the kind of thing we might expect to see in Venezuela, not a U.S. state. It should terrify every American citizen who believes in the rule of law. This is so much more than a partisan power grab. This is an attack on democracy itself. [emphasis mine]

Amen.  A FB friend complained about the “blatant partisanship” but that’s an insult to partisanship.    So much of politics but the interests of party before the people, good policy, etc.  It’s not great, but it’s politics as we know it.  But this is not partisanship.  Partisanship is not about shattering the norms of properly-functioning democracy.  This is petty tyranny.  

OMG– these guys are the worst

By which I mean the NC Republican legislators.  I would say shame on them, but these guys literally have no shame.  I thought I had lost my capacity to be surprised by these petty, pathetic, little tyrants.  I was wrong.  So, they have to face a governor from the opposite party, they’ll just try and strip every power they can from him.  Seriously.  Via WRAL’s Mark Binker:

But the most eye-catching bills will curb Cooper’s ability to appoint agency officials and members of certain boards.

“It appears this fourth special session will be to nullify the vote of the people for governor,” House Minority Leader


Hall, D-Durham, compared the actions by lawmakers to the 1898 riots in Wilmington that overturned election results unpopular with white supremacists at the time.

One bill filed Wednesday would strip Cooper of his appointments to boards of trustees for University of North Carolina campuses, and the Senate would have to confirm all of Cooper’s appointments to serve as cabinet secretaries. It also slices the number of political supervisory positions Cooper can hire and fire at will from 1,500, as has been the case under McCrory, to 300.

Another bill would merge the State Board of Elections and the Ethics Commission into a single eight-member body, splitting appointments evenly between Republican and Democratic members. Currently, members from the majority party hold a 3-2 advantage on the elections board. Local election boards would also be converted from three members to four members. [emphasis mine]

“This group will be a nonpartisan committee, because it will be completely balanced,” said Sen.

, R-Mecklenburg.

The same measure would also change the Supreme Court from nonpartisan elections to partisan. Republicans have long felt that the nonpartisan races put their candidates at a disadvantage, a notion borne out by Democrat Mike Morgan’s defeat of incumbent Justice Bob Edmunds this fall. The bill would also limit appeals of cases to the Supreme Court if they are first heard by all 15 Court of Appeals judges in an en banc panel, a procedure that is currently rarely used.

“Unconstitutional laws could be in effect for years before the state Supreme Court would finally get the case and rule,” said Anita Earls, director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which has successfully sued the state on a number of elections matters. “It also means that every case will be ruled on first by a majority of Republican judges. This further encourages more partisanship instead of fostering an impartial judiciary.”

Earls also characterized the changes to the state Board of Elections as a “partisan power grab.”

Truly beyond the pale and truly beyond what should ever happen in a properly-functioning democracy.

Oh, and looks like this has gone national.  NYT is on it, too.  I hope the Moral Monday folks get a protest arranged because I am so there.

Good media sources– a visual guide

This is pretty nice.  Also sharing this with my son.  But what happened to CBS?

A decent breakdown of all things real and fake news.

What the Russians really hacked

Had a good conversation with a friend at lunch about this today.  The thing that really gets me about this is that there was really nothing all that damning in the hacks and wikileaks dumps.  Headlines could have been stuff like “DNC favors candidate with long history of support for Democratic party over non-Democratic candidate” or “Intr-staff emails during campaign have mean things to say about other people.”  That’s simply not newsworthy and serves essentially no public purpose.  Throw in that these were stolen documents and it really is hard to make the page A1 case for this stuff that it got.  And, throw in that we reached the point anytime people heard “Hillary” and “emails” in the same sentence they were primed to think malfeasance, you’ve got a bad situation.

So basically, as much as hacking emails the Russians hacked the stupidity of our electorate (i.e., Hillary + emails = bad) plus the “exclusive!” “mean stuff said!” nature of our political press to have the impact here.  Oh, and why they were at it, they were working on House races as well.  And, the key was relying on media that just couldn’t resist:

But there was never anything quite like the 2016 election campaign, when a handful of Democratic House candidates became targets of a Russian influence operation that made thousands of pages of documents stolen by hackers from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington available to Florida reporters and bloggers…

The document dump’s effectiveness was due in part to a de facto alliance that formed between the Russian hackers and political bloggers and newspapers across the United States. The hackers, working under the made-up name of Guccifer 2.0, used social media tools to invite individual reporters to request specific caches of documents, handing them out the way political operatives distribute scoops. It was an arrangement that proved irresistible to many news outlets — and amplified the consequences of the cyberattack. [emphasis mine]

There’s the key, damnit.  Russia could not have had an influence on our elections without the willing, credulous cooperation of the media.  And here’s the big NYT rundown on how Russia pulled this all off (would appreciate a little more on the media angle in this one).

Now, of course, 1st amendment and all, the press had the right to publish this stuff.  But absent any information that actually served a public purpose they did not have to let themselves essentially be duped into being pawns of the Russian government.

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